Irregular Creatures: The Prognosis

In case you missed it (which, given my self-prostitution, means you must’ve been buried under a tornado-smacked barn), I went ahead and “officially” released my short story collection, IRREGULAR CREATURES, to the Amazon Kindle marketplace.

I say “officially” because it had been up there since Saturday.

And between Saturday and yesterday, I had zero sales. Not surprising, one supposes, but contained within is a critical lesson: your audience isn’t likely to stumble blindly upon your book. That is true whether it’s in a bookstore or on Amazon — yes, there exists the chance someone will trip on a rock and fall face-down upon it, but you sure can’t count on it. Bookstores are filled with thousands of books. Amazon multiplies that by a factor of… well, let’s just go with one of those imaginary numbers like Snarbgang or Fronk. (Coincidentally, also the name of my favorite Vaudeville comedy duo!) You want people to read it, you gotta lead them to it. Put up signs. And fireworks. And a Tijuana donkey show.

It wasn’t until I released the truth of the book’s existence into the wild that I netted the first sale — and the next, and the next after that.

Because you came calling. A stampede of awesome people.

First Up: My Thanks

So many of you rose to the call of “Please pimp my book” that I literally cannot thank each of you because if I tried to thank you individually, I would eventually die of some random old person disease.

At last count, I saw about 250 tweets of you fine feathered peeps shaking the reeds and shock-prodding other folks in the butt-pucker so they head on out and nab a copy of the e-book.

That is insane. Like, in the good way.

Never mind the many folks who pimped it on Facebook — Rick Carroll, Shawn Gaston, Keith Rawson, uber-agent Stacia Decker, and others. David Hill was the first reviewer on Amazon. James Melzer wrote a far-too-kind blog post exhorting people to go snatch up the collection. (Get it? Snatch? Because there’s a whole story about Thai pussy shows? Shut up. Don’t judge me.)

And again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The blog post announcement, too, was heartily attended. I’m writing this post ahead of time, and even now that post has 1000+ looky-loos all by itself.

You kick ass, everyone of you.

(And hey, the shepherd-slash-prophet of self-publishing — Konrath His Own Self — swung by the site.)

Second Up: The Numbers

By middle of the day, the collection achieved profitability. My only cost going in was the cover art — I won’t tell you how much it cost because, well, I dunno. That’s not your business. *points to crotch*

But I will share with you the total numbers.

As of 9PM:

Amazon US sales: 86

Amazon UK sales: 7

PDF sales through this website: 15

Total sales: 108.

I make $2.07 per sale from Amazon, and $2.60 when purchased here (Paypal fees).

So, a genuinely profitable day, and this is only the first day.

Oh — Amazon sales pushed us up to #824.

Fact: Amazon’s sales ranking is determined by a parliament of insane robots. I began the day at #117,000, then one sale rocketed me up to #75,000 then another sale bumped me to #11,000. After that, I spent the day pinballing between #7,000-ish and #1,000-ish. It would sometimes do this even when I had not earned any new sales. Once, I earned sales, then dropped sales rank so fast, you’d think somebody kicked it out of a plane. Amazon sales rank is a cipher wrapped in a mystery enveloped in a slice of honey-glazed ham.

Mmmm. Ham.

Third Up: My Feelings On The Subject

I feel like a princess.

*pinches nipples, flings tiara skyward, does a pirouette*

Wait, no, that’s a whole different post for a whole different website.

I am cautiously optimistic. I mean, you can really look at this three ways:

Optimistic: Hey, holy shit, awesome. Better than expected. It’s just a dumb short story collection and I’m just some dipshit squawking and spitting into the void, so even if I never got a single other sale, I made enough money to go out and eat a kick-ass dinner. My writing is feeding me. Nobody owns my soul (except all those other people who own my soul — oh, and the Devil). Fucking-A. I rule. Everybody else drools. To celebrate, I will conquer some bacon with my gastrointestinal fluids.

Realistic: It was a good day. It remains to be seen if there’s really going to be a long tail, though. Those who bought today were likely the faithful, so how will the book find an audience otherwise? The author can only do so much. If word of mouth doesn’t carry it, the spark doesn’t catch anything aflame and — sizzle, fizzle, hiss. This is a 45,000 word product. Were I to have earned even a meager per-word on getting those stories published (say, two cents a word), I’d be up $900. And as yet, I’m not really close to that. But the long tail might be there. If I work it good and work it hard (nnngh), I might see that return yet. One lesson to learn: blog views are free, retweets are free, clicks are easy-peasy, but all those things do not automatically translate into a purchase — and that’s a-okay. It isn’t all about the immediate sale.

Pessimistic: Fuck off, fuck-badger. Loser. Loo-hoo-hooo-oooooooser. That old-ass knight from the end of that Indiana Jones movie is saying, right now, “He chose… poorly.” And he’s saying it about you, douchewipe. That thing was 45,000 words. You usually get a pretty good per-word, so realistically, that thing is worth at least $1800. You really think it’s going to make you almost two grand? Mm-humm. Sure. Sure. And my mother was Batman. See what I did there? Because my mother is not Batman. Herp. And derp. Dummy. Now those stories can’t win awards, they won’t be in print, and nobody cares because they’re self-published namby-pamby poo-poo pee-pee wee-wee nonsense.

But again, I’m somewhere in the middle. Closer to optimistic. I’m happy about the day’s sales.

And it’s not like it’s gone. You can still buy it.

No, really: You Can Still Buy It.

Fourth: What Now?

Well, in part, I shut up about it. I have other things to work on and other stuff to talk about. And the last thing I want to do is become a shill for my own book, a constantly-jabbering parrot: “Buy my crap! Buy my crap! KRAAAWWK! Buy my crap! Flying cats! Bangkok vagina! Buy my crap!”

Some of it will fall to you. You like it? Then please: spread the love. I’m hearing some good reports from people who have read the first story (“Dog-Man And Cat-Bird, A Flying Cat Story”), and that’s awesome. Tell others. Leave reviews on Amazon (even if you bought only the PDF). Don’t need to go overboard or out of your way, but if you’d be so kind as to occasionally pimp it, I would love you forever.

But some of it falls to me, too. If anybody needs a review copy, let me know. I can help make that happen. I’ll also be soliciting some interviews and what-not about the process, but feel free to ping me if you’d be into hearing a bit about this whole process.

Plus, if you have any other ideas for getting it “out there,” my ears are open. They’re full of wax and earwigs, sure, but by golly, they are open.

And that’s it for now, peeps.

Thanks again.

Keep them cats a-flying.